Curriculum innovation responds to the diversity and complexity of urban areas and gives local schools the flexibility to customize their educational programs to meet the unique needs of their students. The ultimate goal of curriculum innovation is to promote quality and equality for all students through curriculum, instruction, and assessment initiatives that are based on research and proven practice. Several examples of curriculum innovation include mathematics/science academies, Comer schools, foreign language academies, Afrocentric schools, Paideia schools, dual-language programs, and schools that emphasize home-school partnerships and integrated services.
In some districts, the emergence of curriculum innovation is linked to magnet schools as part of a districtwide desegregation and equity plan. In other districts, curriculum innovation is linked to a choice plan wherein schools are encouraged to develop a specialized focus and compete for students in an open market system. For example, in Indianapolis, the superintendent has launched the Select Schools Plan. Under this controlled choice plan, each school develops a particular focus; parents then are able to shop around the district and enroll their children in the school most suited to their needs. It is believed that the Select Schools Plan will reconnect the community and the schools and give parents a say in what programs are provided for their children. Yet another version of curriculum innovation, Charter Schools, is emerging in several cities and states (e.g., Philadelphia, Minnesota, and California) as an outgrowth of school choice. (For a discussion of Charter Schools, see the Policy Briefs on Charter Schools available from NCREL.)
Posted on April 26, 1995